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Author Topic: SNL in race row over 'slave draft' sketch  (Read 3186 times)
Posts: 1673

« on: May 05, 2014, 08:23:45 PM »

SNL in race row over 'slave draft' sketch as Ebony editor calls comedian Leslie Jones a 'big loud monkey'

Leslie Jones

By David Mccormack
Published: 10:37 EST, 5 May 2014 | Updated: 12:43 EST, 5 May 2014

A Saturday Night Live sketch written and performed by one of the team’s recently hired black female writers has come in for sharp criticism from an editor at African American magazine Ebony who labelled the ‘slave draft’ routine an ‘embarrassment.’

The sketch, performed by Leslie Jones during Saturday’s Weekend Update spot, started with the news that Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o had recently been named People magazine’s ‘World’s Most Beautiful.’

Jones then joked about her own dating woes and admitted that while she wasn’t as attractive as Nyong’o by current standards, her six foot stature wouldn’t have been a problem in the days of slavery.

‘See, I’m single right now, but back in the slave days, I would have never been single. I’m six feet tall and I’m strong,’ she joked.

‘I mean, look at me, I’m a mandingo ... I’m just saying that back in the slave days, my love life would have been way better. Massah would have hooked me up with the best brotha on the plantation… I would be the No. 1 slave draft pick.’

Ebony.com senior editor Jamilah Lemieux

One of the harshest critics was Ebony.com senior editor Jamilah Lemieux, who tweeted ‘This Leslie Jones person is an embarrassment @msmarypryor. I'm so appalled right now.’

Moments later she tweeted 'So the Lupita moment had to be counteracted by a Black woman acting like a big loud monkey? Just...wow.'

Read more: dailymail.co.uk
Posts: 99

« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2014, 11:31:32 PM »

The joke is tacky and that's putting it quite mildly.  However, outrageous as the skit is, I don't agree with how Ms Lemieux handled it...name calling is the same brand of ignorance that the SNL sketch decided to rock.  She certainly could have articulated herself quite differently instead of resorting to vitriol.
Iniko Ujaama
Posts: 528

« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2014, 10:53:53 PM »

There are a number of interesting things in this situation I think are worth noting.

One of the harshest critics was Ebony.com senior editor Jamilah Lemieux, who tweeted ‘This Leslie Jones person is an embarrassment @msmarypryor. I'm so appalled right now.’

Moments later she tweeted 'So the Lupita moment had to be counteracted by a Black woman acting like a big loud monkey? Just...wow.'

I have issues with the humour itself but I will elaborate on that later. It is interesting that she made reference to the Lupita moment. In my view a lot of the appeal of Lupita among quite a few African people was tied in with her acceptability among/by whites. So it tends to be made to represent more than it does in terms of change, improvement of progress for African people in much the same way with Barack Obama. Many unconscious Blacks(middle to upper class, more formally educated etc) simply want superficial acceptance by whites and therefore are always on the guard for others who may spoil that for them. While I think there is fair basis for criticism of the skit, I think this attitude of contempt, aversion(or sometimes disregard) can go for many Blacks who represent legitimate concerns but in ways unappealing to many whites. Her description of Ms. Jones as a "big loud monkey" has nothing to do with the distastefulness of her humour and in my view exposes the biases which to a large extent drove the response.

‘Y’all so busy trying to be self righteous you miss what the joke really is. Very sad I have to defend myself to black people.

I honestly did not get the "joke" but like I pointed out above I think the response was based on more than just the "joke".

'Now I’m betting if Chris Rock or Dave [Chappelle] did that joke or  jay z or Kanye put in a rap they would be called brilliant.

'Cause they all do this type of material. Just cause it came from a strong  black woman who ain’t afraid to be real y’all mad.’

There definitely is a double standard where such content is concerned. The general way in which males talking about their sexuality even where they are being exploited for their sexuality is found to be funny or even "empowering". While there is some criticism of the images etc of commercial hiphop there are often attempts to bend over backwards to praise artists who represent many of these anti-black and sexist attitudes and lyrics partly because they have already acquired mainstream acceptance.
I am not sure what Ms. Jones means here by a strong black woman. I do not think simply being able to speak out loud about certain topics or to make mild about certain experiences necessarily makes you a strong person. Many times people use humour to soften or delay the pain of certain experiences, memories etc. I do not think that is necessarily a problem although if used continuously it can tend to lead you to lose your sensitivity to the experience, memory etc. Another aspect which struck me where this is concerned is the audience for your humour. I don't think all humour is for all audiences. Beyond the fact that I personally did not find it funny I think attempts at humour like this make it too easy for white people to make light of things that have not been properly addressed.

‘So here is my announcement black folks, you won’t stop me and Im gonna go even harder and deeper now.

'Cause it’s a shame that we kill each other instead of support each other. This exactly why black people are where we are now cause we too f***** sensitive and instead of make lemonade out of lemons we just suck the sour juice from the lemons. Wake up.’

I don't think we need to support everything that comes from a black person. Lack of unconditional support for everything that is done by a black person is far from the basis for the situation of African people today. I actually think it is the reverse. Lack of critically assessing what comes from both African people and others(Europeans etc) and simply accepting them plays a more significant role in the present situation.
I also disagree with the notion that African people are too sensitive. Again I think there is a general lack of sensitivity to our interest as African people among many African people.
Sometimes celebrities while pursuing their individual self interest as they see it, feel entitled to the support of African people simply because they are black. The double standard is that they do not expect to be held accountable to this same people who their expect to push their interest. They think African people should simply lend them their support without assessing how they are serving our interest. Too often they seek legitimacy or a jump start from African people so that they can go on to work for European interest with a light conscience.

Posts: 1263


« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2014, 09:07:56 PM »

I do not have an issue with Leslie’s joke. Her style expresses very real and sometimes disturbing truths via the comedic platform, which is not uncommon. The premise of her joke is spot on. Her looks are not valued in today’s society (neither was it during slavery except perhaps to produce robust slaves) as being attractive or deserving of sexuality. It’s an uncomfortable reality that isn’t usually discussed on serious platforms. Even on most so-called pro-black forums, her voice would be stifled because of her appearance.

As evidenced by the reactions of Jamilah Lemieux and others, particularly blacks who conform to more Eurocentric beauty and/or academic standards, this is not an issue that they want to be reminded of. Jones’ strong African features coupled with her unsubdued personality, more than anything else, is what people are taking offense to. More than that, people, in particular those who wish to be accepted among white circles or standards of academia, do not like to be reminded of slavery, especially where indignities are explicitly described and more so when they are in a position of benefiting more than others from the status quo.
What I don’t appreciate though, as Iniko Ujaama pointed out, is the platform used to ventilate this kind of comedy. I think that there are some issues that should not be publicized in front of white and other non-black audiences. I remember Dave Chapelle lamenting on a joke that he made on his now defunct Chapelle Show where he observed a white audience member laughing in a manner which made him uncomfortable. He felt that the audience member was not laughing at the joke but at him, or his race. Thus, he was forced to reconsider what jokes he told and the audiences which he told those jokes to.

Leslie Jones is the kind of black that whites would not like and blacks would not like either and this would seriously colour people’s perception of her comedy. It is for this reason that the light-skinned, mixed race Jamilah Lemieux could annex her to a “monkey” – a common white terminology used to connote sub-humanity – and think nothing of it. It is easy for Lemieux, under the guise of being black, to show up her colour prejudice against the dark skinned Ms. Jones. If a Halle Berry of Beyonce type made the same joke, I am almost certain that the “monkey” comment would have been absent from Lemieux’s criticism. That, to me, is the major issue of the controversy.

Lastly, I would not publicly come down too hard on Jones’ defensive comeback responses although I do not agree with them all. I do agree, however, that most people doing the criticizing are so caught up in their false-perception-of-self-righteousness that they cannot see the relevance in what was expressed in the joke.
Posts: 490

« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2014, 10:51:41 AM »

I felt a tinge of respectability politics in how Jone's expression of her reality was received in some black spaces and forums. Not only is her body wrong on the Eurocentric scale, her performance of blackness and femalehood is also wrong. Gabourney Sidibe is getting applauded for being vocal about similar topics as Jones tackled. The difference is that Sidibe is doing so in a more intellectual manner, a more 'palatable' way (and in long straight weaves, and "elegant" dresses and rouge, etc).

What was hard for me to palate was that someone would joke about how they would prefer forced breeding to being single, as she put it. Made me think of how many would rather put up with abuse than be without a partner.
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